moira donegan

Laura Hough/GoFundMe Remix by Jason Reed

GoFundMe for Shitty Media Men List creator goes viral after accused man launches lawsuit

Journalists believe Stephen Elliott is trying to intimidate survivors.


Ana Valens


Published Oct 12, 2018   Updated May 21, 2021, 4:16 am CDT

After Harper’s allegedly planned to out her identity, journalist Moira Donegan beat the magazine to its punch in January, outing herself as the creator behind the editorial world’s “Shitty Media Men List.” Now, one of the men on the list is suing Donegan, and women in journalism are coming to her aid.

The Shitty Media Men List, created as a Google Doc, circulated for about a day in October 2017 before it was shut down amid threats. Its intentions were to act as a “whisper network,” collecting allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse so women could warn each other about potential predators in journalism and publishing. Accusations were levied against over 70 men at publications ranging from the New York Times to BuzzFeed, and one of the most serious accusations on the list was aimed at Rumpus founder Stephen Elliott.

The Shitty Media Men list claims Elliott is “accused of physical sexual violence by multiple women,” according to a copy obtained by the Daily Dot. The list alleges that Elliott engaged in sexual harassment, coercion, and sexual assault.

Prior to the list’s creation, Elliott was accused of sexual harassment by author Claire Vaye Watkins, who claims he repeatedly flirted with her and attempted to “convince” her to let him stay in her bed while crashing at her apartment. Elliott later wrote about the encounter in an email to Rumpus readers, which features “professional dismissal,” “sexual entitlement,” “gaslighting,” and treats Watkins “as property,” she alleges.

Last month, Elliot penned an essay titled “How an Anonymous Allegation Derailed My Life,” in which he details how the list has hurt his career. Since then, other women have come forward with stories about and alluding to his harassing behavior.

Now, Elliot has filed a lawsuit for $1.5 million in damages over the Shitty Media Men List. The suit, which was filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that the list caused libel and emotional distress. Elliott even plans to subpoena Google for metadata on the spreadsheet’s “Jane Does” who contributed anonymously to the list with their own accusations.

“Upon information and belief, Defendants conspired to create the Google Spreadsheet entitled ‘Shitty Media Men’ and circulated the link to the List via email, without password protection, for the stated purpose of encouraging the female recipients to anonymously publish allegations of sexual misconduct by men. Plaintiff believes that information obtained in discovery will reveal the Jane Doe Defendants’ true names, addresses, and other identifying information and allow Plaintiff to amend this Complaint to state the same.”

In light of Elliott’s lawsuit, writer Lauren Hough launched a GoFundMe for Donegan’s legal fees and expenses. The fundraiser has a $500,000 goal, and any remaining donations will be given to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, she writes.

“I needed to do something,” Hough writes in the GoFundMe’s description. “This is what I could do. I know a lot of you feel the same. More than anything, I want Moira to see the army she has behind her.”

Hough’s GoFundMe has since gone viral, with over $45,000 already donated to Donegan. Journalists across Twitter have since defended Donegan and shared a link to her GoFundMe.

Even the Rumpus, which Elliott founded, shared Donegan’s GoFundMe.

Others wonder why Elliott would file the lawsuit in the first place. After all, he isn’t likely to win his case. Rather, some believe he wants to punish the list’s accusers and make future survivors scared to out their abusers.

As for whether Elliott will be able to out any Jane Does, it seems unlikely. Not only was the original Shitty Media Men List was taken offline last year, deleted Google Drive data is removed within 15 days of its appearance. So unless the lawsuit emerged during the Shitty Media Men List’s creation, “the data they want is long gone,” the Verge’s policy editor Russell Brandom wrote in a tweet.

Readers interested in donating to Donegan’s legal fund can visit the official GoFundMe page here.


H/T the Cut

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*First Published: Oct 12, 2018, 11:27 am CDT